Tena Desae in Table No 21
She made an impression as the spunky Sunaina alongside Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. This Friday, Kingfisher model Tena Desae will be seen with Rajeev Khandelwal and Paresh Rawal in the Bolly thriller Table No 21. A t2 chatů
How did Table No 21 happen?
The director (Aditya Datt) had seen Marigold and liked me in it and he called me for a tiny screen test. Luckily, he was happy with it and I was confirmed. Everyone speak about doing something different, but Table No 21 is genuinely different. It’s loosely modelled on the game of truth and dare.
What can you tell us about the film?
Rajeev (Khandelwal) and I are this unassuming couple who take off to Fiji for a holiday and we meet Paresh Rawal who dares us to play a game. That one game brings about irrevocable changes in our lives. The thought that has gone into every scene is intelligent and the cast is very good. Hindi films don’t have too much for the actress to do but here, right from the first frame to the last, I am there.
Is it a fitting follow-up to Marigold?
I definitely think so. What I look for is a good set-up and this film gave me that along with the chance to perform. After my Bolly debut (Yeh Faasley), I have become a lot more careful because everyone told me that script is always the king, but I kind of burnt my fingers with that one.
How was it sharing screen space with Rajeev Khandelwal and Paresh Rawal?
Rajeev has a certain credibility and everyone who talks about his work does so with respect. Paresh Rawal is so versatile and I know of people who go to watch a film with him in it because they trust his choice of films. In Marigold, I loved how rooted all the actors were and this I found here as well. On day one of our shoot, Rajeev asked me to tell him if I ever had any problem with him so he would know where to draw the line and not do things that made me uncomfortable. I found that so comforting. Paresh Rawal would be playing Angry Birds, cracking jokes and eating khakra one second and the next moment, he would just go up and give a flawless shot!
Though you have been a Kingfisher model, did you have any second thoughts about wearing a bikini on screen?
Yes, there is a little more talk about wearing a bikini in a Bolly film. I did give it some thought before signing the film, but everyone is doing it now. We were shooting in Fiji and the island we were shooting on was pretty deserted. The director was sensitive enough to keep only a minimum amount of crew on set. I was pretty comfortable and since I had done Kingfisher, I actually came in with no inhibitions.
You apparently subsisted on just half a fruit a day for the bikini scenes!
When I was doing the bikini scenes, I was very clear that I didn’t want anything short of washboard abs. On the days of the shoot, I would have a bit of fruit and nothing else and do the shoot, but after it, I would eat my normal meals. I didn’t starve or anything.
What is your Bolly game plan now?
It boils down to the debate between business and creativity and while I do want to do films with good scripts, the big-budget ones, which may not have much for me to do, will give me the opening to do many more films. Barfi! would actually be an ideal example of striking a balance because it presented its women so beautifully, was such a moving film and yet made Rs 100crore.
And your Holly career?
I have got myself managers in Los Angeles and London and they have been sending me scripts off and on. But the process is quite slow in Hollywood where writing takes a year, casting another six months and so on. So, nothing will happen before mid-2013.
Are you part of the Marigold sequel with Helen Mirren and Colin Firth?
I haven’t discussed this with anybody so far, though I am very excited about the sequel. But I wouldn’t want to talk about it till the time it materialises. I am very, very superstitious.